The 49th International Paris Air Show — the largest and oldest air show in the world — will be home this week to a host of Wichitans doing business and showcasing Wichita-built products.
"We go to the world because the world goes to the Paris Air Show," said Spirit AeroSystems CEO and president Jeff Turner.
The show, which started in 1909 and opens Monday, is held every other year at the Le Bourget airport north of Paris.
More than 2,000 companies are exhibiting. It's expected to draw more than 340,000 visitors, 200 international delegations and 3,000 journalists.
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It's the place to meet with customers, suppliers, investors and the news media, Turner said. Airlines, commercial and military customers are there.
"There's a lot of interaction that occurs that's good for business," he said. "You get a feel for what everybody thinks and you do that in a short, compressed period of time."
The show is less of a general aviation venue and more for military and commercial aircraft. That's why Hawker Beechcraft is showcasing its military and special-mission aircraft, the T-6C and King Air 350.
The T-6 will fly every afternoon as part of the air show portion of the event.
The show is a good opportunity to meet with military customers from the region, said Russ Bartlett, Hawker director of U.S. and international government business development. It lays groundwork for future opportunities.
"It's high payout for us," Bartlett said.
Cessna will take part in Textron's exhibit but will have a small presence. It will have a Citation CJ4 on display. Trevor Esling, vice president of international sales, and two sales representatives will attend.
Bombardier Aerospace will showcase its Wichita-built Learjet 60XR, along with its Challenger 300 and either a Global Express or a Global 5000, said Bombardier spokeswoman Annie Cossette.
The show "is a very good opportunity to meet with expectant customers and existing customers that are maybe in Europe or in the neighboring regions, from the Middle East," Cossette said. "There are customers now from Asia that go to the Paris Air Show."
Wichita general aviation companies have been focusing on the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition held yearly in Geneva, Switzerland, a month before the Paris show.
The Greater Wichita Economic Development Coalition plans to showcase Wichita's aviation industry during the Paris show.
"Our goal is really twofold: Not only are we there to recruit new aviation companies to Wichita, we're also there to represent the 300-plus aviation companies and suppliers that are already in this market and have the capacity to service international markets," said GWEDC marketing manager Tammy Nolan.
Wichita faces strong economic development competition at the show.
"Which is why we have to be there," Nolan said. "We have to keep our Air Capital of the World status in front of the world."
GWEDC is partnering with Wichita-based suppliers Fiber Dynamics and Harlow Aerostructures.
"They're taking some prototypes and hope to gain some international exposure," Nolan said.
It would be impractical for Fiber Dynamics to be there without a partnership arrangement, said company president and CEO Darrin Teeter.
"It's a good opportunity for us to do a little bit of reconnaissance and broaden our perspective and broaden our exposure," he said.
The Kansas Department of Commerce is sending a representative, but the state no longer exhibits in Paris because of budget constraints, Nolan said.
Boeing, Airbus, Embraer and others are holding news conferences during the week.
Airbus plans to announce a more powerful engine for its new A350-1000 jetliner, which strengthens the plane's position against Boeing's 777-300ER, according to aviation analyst Scott Hamilton.
Boeing will showcase its passenger and freighter versions of the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental jet, the 787 Dreamliner, a 737-700 with the new Sky Interior, a 777-200LR, C-17, F-15E and Ch-47F Chinook helicopter.
This year's show marks an economic recovery with companies registering early for the show, organizers said.
The crisis can be felt, however.
Most large companies have reduced their budgets for the show by between 10 and 30 percent, organizers said. That left space for newcomers and components manufacturers wanting to reinforce their presence.